Dean’s Assembly – Endeavour Awards and “That’s So Gay”

This is our fifth Endeavour Awards ceremony, and our last. As you move into the Senior School there will be a shift of focus as we look at ensuring you are all working towards gaining the best qualification that you all can. The endeavour awards will be a system that we leave as a present for the new junior year groups below us. Congratulations to:

Kiya Basabas, Paige Cooke, Zara Dunlop-Storey, K’Shana Fa’amasino, Danica Fontein, Chantel Gates, Hunter Giltrap, Pranav Gohil, Dylan Jones, Hayley Luckin, Daphne Martinez, Jack Matterson, Ella Nguon, Casey Norman, Stefanija Palea’ae, Amelia Powdrell, Lorraine Sevilla, Tiarne Southon, and Laura Spiers

Special congratulations goes to the follow three students who received Endeavour Awards in all five ceremonies over the last two years. And outstanding achievement!

Audrey Martinez, Simon Little, Benjamin Murdoch

I’ve tried to be transparent with how the Endeavour Awards are awarded with the teacher nomination process. I hope that you’ve found it to be a system that is worth aspiring to and that the conversations with your Form Teachers, your mentors or me have been helpful. Recently it came to my attention that we could be more transparent with our systems for the Junior Prizegiving. The end of year prizes are handed out in two ceremonies. We have our Formal Assembly which we all attend, and a Junior Prizegiving in the evening, but you needed to have been specifically invited. The following outlines what is acknowledged in each:

End of Year Formal Assembly

  • Personal Excellence (just like the Endeavour Awards, where every teacher nominates you for working well throughout the year striving to achieve your own level of personal excellence
  • Service Awards (awarded for contributions across the school ranging from house reps, to the various clubs and competitions)

Junior Prizegiving

  • Subject Cups for 1st in subject, and acknowledgement of 2nd and 3rd places.
  • Academic Excellence (big subjects also acknowledge students who performed in the top 1 or so)
  • Overall Academic Achievement in Year 10 (the top performing student in Year and the runner up is acknowledged)
  • College Association Trophy for best all-round student (for the highest standard in academic studies as well as sporting and cultural)
  • Awards are also given to the top performing Maori and Pasifika Students.

To find out more about the prizes we hand out here is a link to last year’s prize winners.

This last section of today’s Dean’s Assembly is titled: That’s so gay. And what I want to do is explain clearly to you the difference between me saying “I am gay” and what the image here conveys. I have chosen to speak about this because I regularly hear the misuse of the word ‘gay’ on pretty much a daily basis. Today, I want to eliminate gay as a pejorative from our language in Year 10.

Realistically, we are a safe school here and you might argue that because we have openly gay students and teachers, we have a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, we are really tolerant of difference here – why does this matter? And it matter because I’m convinced all of you have heard, or maybe even used, in the past week the word gay to describe something that was neither homosexual… or happy. This is wrong.

Ok, so you’re not sure if you should use the word gay. Here’s a flowchart:

Gay_Flowchart

What it often comes down to is not hate or bigotry or homophobia – but laziness. Gay is not the word you mean but it has become such an easy word to thrown out there but it’s actually not what you are trying to say. Look at all these other options. If there’s one thing you take away from today let it be this: Say what you mean and mean what you say because the words that you say matter. When you misuse the word gay it hurts people.

Statistically speaking, 20 of us in this room today are or one day will identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Misusing the word gay suggests that being gay is being less or inferior. This simply isn’t true. Being gay is not a bad thing so my message to you today is to use the flow chart, engage your thinking and make positive decisions about the language that you use. Furthermore, when you hear the misuse of language, what do you do? Do you silently accept it, or do you challenge it – say that the person made a hurtful choice with their language – and help them to find a more appropriate word? I’ll leave that to you.

Whether it be using the word ‘gay’, posting something online, showing your commitment in class, striving to reach your potential with your learning or selecting a subject for next year. Make sure you a making good decisions.

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